The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary

Wow, am I exhausted!  I got up at 7am this morning, and it’s been POTO25 ever since.  Here in San Francisco, the simulcast of The Phantom of the Opera Live from the Royal Albert Hall began at 11am.  We drove down early, ate breakfast nearby, and then got to the cinema for choice seats.  I’m sure nobody wants to hear what I had for breakfast, so I’ll cut right to the good stuff.  Our cinema had a 255 seat capacity (trust me, I looked) and there were probably about 60 of us in attendance.

Overall, the quality of the broadcast was excellent.  There were probably four cameras doing the coverage, and the only one I didn’t like was the one at stage level, literally along the footlights.  Every time they switched over to that camera, it made me a little seasick.  This was due to the angle and the lens distortion.  The set was gorgeous, with the orchestra above the main platform and sometimes covered by a scrim.  There were four panels at the back of the main stage that had different backdrops projected.  Now, I don’t know the proper terminology for this, but the little colored light circles making up these projections didn’t react very well to certain camera angles and movements.  It was very hard on the eye, and I hope it’s something they can fix digitally for the DVD release.  I imagine it was fine for the live audience at the Royal Albert Hall.  My favorite use of these panels was during Christine’s bows after her first big solo.  She turned her back to the actual audience, and the panels were used like mirrors to reflect the audience applauding.  Then the front stage became backstage at the opera house.

The big surprise and delight for me was Sierra Boggess.  I’ve never seen her perform before, and she was truly lovely.  The camera adores her, and she performed beautifully.  I can’t actually be objective about Ramin Karimloo (The Phantom) and Hadley Fraser (Raoul) because I’m such a big fan of both of them already.  Sadly, makeup for the stage isn’t subtle enough for filmed closeups, and Karimloo’s prosthetics, mask, and two microphones (forehead and cheek) were, well, not subtle.  In spite of this, Karimloo broke my heart at the end when he let Christine go.  Fraser cleaned up nicely as Raoul, and I thought he struck the right balance between gentle lover and arrogant aristocrat.  I thought everybody did a great job, and I enjoyed finding familiar faces in the ensemble from the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert last year.

The finale was pretty spectacular, and these folks came out: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, the surviving creative team from the original production, the creative team for the RAH production,  the original London cast including Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, and four other Phantom actors.  These were Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones, Anthony Warlow and Peter Jöback.  Sarah Brightman sang with the four phantoms with Ramin Karimloo joining them at the end.  It’s a shame that the Phantom makeup takes too long to take off, because it would have been great to see Karimloo’s real face for the finale.  Andrew Lloyd Webber made a short speech, and he was pretty cute when he asked the audience to sit down in case he went on too long.  After the encores, during the final bows, sparklers went off around the Hall while confetti and streamers dropped from above.  I was sorry to see it end, but at least we’ll have the DVD release.  There was a slide advertising the DVD before the simulcast began, but it didn’t give a US release date, just “coming soon.”

One of the real pleasures of the day was chatting with other members of the audience.  One nice woman brought her young son who enjoys performing in musicals.  Who knows, one day we may be seeing him as the Phantom!  He was happy to pose for a photograph with the cinema poster.

The Next Phantom?

The Next Phantom? A young moviegoer in San Bruno

Click to see larger versions of these images that follow:

So, here are some images.  I debated whether it was proper to post photographs of the Phantom unmasked.  Since today was the final performance of this special weekend event, I decided to go ahead.  Enjoy!

The Auction with Raoul (Hadley Fraser)

The Auction, with Raoul (Hadley Fraser) caught during a camera cross fade

Christine (Sierra Boggess) in boat

Christine (Sierra Boggess) in boat, during another cross fade!

Music of the Night with Ramin Karimloo & Sierra Boggess

Music of the Night with Ramin Karimloo & Sierra Boggess

Music of the Night embrace with Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess

Music of the Night embrace with Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess

Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom unmasked

All I Ask with Hadley Fraser & Sierra Boggess

Hadley Fraser (Raoul) and Sierra Boggess (Christine)

All I Ask with Hadley Fraser

Masquerade

Masquerade

Masquerade Raoul (Hadley Fraser) & Christine (Sierra Bogess)

Masquerade with Hadley Fraser

Masquerade Phantom Ramin Karimloo

Hadley Fraser & Sierra Bogess

I like this one of Hadley Fraser, even with his eyes closed!

Hadley Fraser as Raoul, The Phantom of the Opera

Raoul (Hadley Fraser) & Madame Giry (Liz Robertson)

Raoul with Madame Giry (Liz Robertson)

Lair with Phantom (Ramin Karimloo)

Raoul (Hadley Fraser), The Phantom of the Opera

Please do not copy/paste these images on other sites without permission, including twitter.

Related Post: POTO25: Curtain Call and Encores

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42 Comments

Filed under Actors, Theatre

42 responses to “The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary

  1. Thank you! I went and saw this performance too. I’m still a little giddy over it.

    Loved when Michael Crawford got a trembly bottom lip.

    The whole event was breathtaking.

  2. Hannah

    OH MY GOSH THANKS SO MUCH! I’m so giddy today and glad someone posted photos!!!!! I especially love the Ramin ones. 🙂 Merci!

  3. Aubrey

    *GASP* I. LOVE. THE. PHOTOS!!!!!!!!!!!

    I saw it today, absolutely LOVED it. I did not have my camera with me (kicking myself during the entire performance!) so I only have other’s photos, youtube and my holey memory to remind me. *sad* Although…I’ve got my eye on the DVD coming out in Nov. 🙂

    Thanks for posting!!! Brings back the magic of the show 🙂

  4. Thank you all for leaving such nice comments! What made the performance special for me was knowing so many of us were all watching together and sharing the experience.

    I’m glad you like the photos, too.

  5. Christine M

    Thank you a thousand times for these photos! That last one, of Christine and the Phantom made me cry all over, just like yesterday! Ramin absolutely NAILED the wonder that she really cared for him, and the grief in his knowledge that he had to let her go.

  6. Richard

    The cast were excellent as expected and the music was very fine. The sets were spectacular looking for sure, but the Albert Hall itself proved to be a big letdown. The whole top half of the stage was taken up with backdrop and then the orchestra was suspended halfway up with the cast only being able to move around the bottom and sides of the stage. It had no trapdoor facilities (for the Red Death to descend) or rotating parts to move larger more solid pieces of scenery and of course those big acoustic mushrooms in the ceiling prevented the greatest specticle in the show (the falling chandelier) from actually happening. This begs the question – why do it in that venue? The Albert Hall is a concert hall for orchestras and choirs, it is not designed to house large stage shows. The Les Mis anniversary show was a concert with people standing in front of microphones with the orchestra at the back.
    There were great things in the show, but if I had paid the hefty ticket prices as a Phan I would have been expecting something bigger and better than I could have seen at Her Majesty’s Theatre, alas it did not deliver quite as much.

  7. you don’t have a pic of sierra and hadley singing all i ask of you after the final lair do you??? loved that with hadley standing on the stairs reaching out for her +.+ 😀

  8. helsbrownie79

    I was at the Royal Albert Hall last night and have to say it was an amazing show. I do agree with some of the comments regarding the staging, but the atmosphere in the theatre was electric and it is a beautiful, fitting venue. There is nowhere else in London that size with the right setting for such a concert. I think they could have done more with the chandelier with the projection, as they were clearly restricted with it physically. The fireworks did really add to the drama of the whole thing though.

    There was a real buzz around the place beforehand – clearly a lot of die hard fans turned up, a few in costume, which I have to say I wasn’t expecting!

    I was sat in the first ring just behind the stalls and had an absolutely stunning view. While not close enough to see facial expressions (so thank you for the pics!), I had a clear view of the whole stage and got a sense of the auditorium and the scale of the production e.g. use of aisles for managers and firemen – I had a fireman right behind me shouting that the doors were locked, which gave a few chills down the spine. I was also close enough to feel the heat from the flames which added somewhat to the atmosphere!

    For me, the true stars of the show were Hadley, Sierra and Ramin. The supporting roles were excellent too – but my eye was always drawn to these three. You forget how little the Phantom is actually seen on the stage and for me Hadley and Sierra stole the show. Sierra’s voice is just spectacular and I think quite a few people were tempted to get on their feet after Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again – I’m glad they didn’t though as it would have spoilt the whole atmosphere and flow if that had happened. I am a huge fan of Hadley Fraser and he did not disappoint me – he truly owned the stage and his voice filled the Hall effortlessly. I’ve not seen him dance before and very much enjoyed his part in Masquerade. And of course, Ramin – again so powerful. The three of them were perfect casting for me – just superb. Made even more impressive by a short rehearsal period, plus Hadley is in the middle of his Les Mis run and only had the last week off to focus on Raoul – to be learning Raoul while also performing Javert nightly is pretty remarkable stuff.

    I was slightly disappointed with the finale – I perhaps had higher expectations after the Les Mis 25th concert. Apparently some of the current cast were there but I have to say I missed that, perhaps they were on the balcony?? The 5 phantoms section was superb but Sarah Brightman was incredibly disappointing and seemed very full of herself – I felt she was channelling Carlotta more than Christine…….Unfortunately, the sound was out of kilter with the 5 phantoms and Sarah – the orchestra were far too loud and drowned out all the voices. From what I’ve heard this wasn’t an issue in the cinemas and so hopefully won’t be on the DVDs. That is the only criticism I have of the orchestra – otherwise they were magical. I would have liked to see some of the other songs performed again with some of the original and current cast and I felt Hadley and Sierra could have had a bigger role in the finale – but then I guess it is all about the Phantom!

    • Angie Scholey

      I agree with you totally – we watched the broadcast in our local cinema so obviously couldn’t appreciate the actual buzz of “being there”, but we did get to see some beautiful close ups, particularly of my most favourite performer, Hadley Fraser. Gosh, he absolutely nailed the role and I’m with you, my admiration knows no bounds when you consider how little (in real terms) rehearsal time he had – a consumate professional if ever there was one. I will admit to going a little weak at the knees when he sang “All I Ask of You” with Christine/Sierra (wasn’t she something special too.) Ramin was just incredible, not on stage a lot as you say, but such a powerful presence when he was and so heartbreaking at the end.
      I also thought the finale was a bit of a non event, almost like they couldn’t think of what to do! I’m glad we got to hear the 5 Phantoms though, I thought the current Phantom, John Owen-Jones, was just amazing. As for Sarah Brightman – trying just a little bit too hard I thought.
      Overall though, a fabulous event and I look forward to the DVD next month. Shall enjoy watching Hadley again – and again!

    • Susan Bernaek

      I agree with so much of what you said. I love much of the music from “Phantom,” but I’m one of those “anti-phantom” people in the show. Yes, Ramin is very good, but I personally far prefer both Hadley and Sierra. I just do. Party, it’s because I’ve learned in this life that “something in your mind,” while perhaps intriguing and fascinating, isn’t real life. I was rooting for Raoul through the whole performance, knowing, of course, that the character of Christine is a bit wishy-washing, and that she’d eventually choose the phantom (poor, misguided girl)! 🙂
      I also was very disappointed in Sarah Brightman, or maybe just totally enthralled with the beautiful Sierra, whose voice I like far better. In fact, the top 3 from this show had voices that are (to my way of thinking) far better than those of the original cast.

  9. Katelyn

    Sounds like you had an amazing time! Your photos look lovely (sorry to hear people are stealing them without crediting you). Hadley Fraser looks mighty adorable, I must say. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Richard

    I can understand that the Albert Hall was chosen for its seating capacity, but why not do it somewhere which has a lot of seats and has a stage designed for the sort of show they wanted? Ok the 2000 seat Palladium was occupied, but there must have been somewhere better. Heck why not just stick to HM theatre and upgrade the set more? I know it holds about 1200 people only, but they could’ve done more shows.

    It’s a shame Crawford didn’t sing, I assume he wanted to protect his voice for Wizard of Oz. It’s sad because unlike Brightman he still has a great voice and you could tell everyone wanted him to come out and do it.

    • Susan Bernaek

      Sorry, but compared to Ramin’s voice, Michael’s has a “tinny” edge to it. Just my opinion, I know. But I have compared the two CDs, and truthfully, Ramin is better.

  11. Fia

    Thank you so much for posting these photos! They’re lovely, and I really enjoyed looking at them. Thank you for your time! 🙂 I am guilty of reblogging some on Tumblr, and I will make sure to go back and give you the credit, as I did not know the source! Thank you again. 🙂

  12. Nigel

    I hope U don’t mind that I used the Music Of The Night pic for my Facebook Profile pic. Hope that’s ok. Glad U enjoyed the show. I loved it as well. All Best, Nigel

    • Oh, that’s fine! If it’s the “embrace” one, that’s already gotten the most “click to enlarge” hits. It’s really wonderful to hear from fans from all over about this amazing shared experience.

  13. Thanks for the post and photos. I was watching the live transmission in Bognor Regis in the UK. Wonderful to have been part of this amazing event. Hope you don’t mind that I have used one of your photos (with a credit) and a link to your blog. Please let me know if you would like me to remove/change anything.

  14. zoe

    Thanks for the photos and its interesting reading everyones comments. It was a fantastic evening and I was like Kathryn at the same cinema locally and had a fantastic time. My boyfriend came and he doesnt like musicals and he actually enjoyed it and would like to see more now. Im glad the whole show was staged as I was only expecting a concert like ‘Les Miserables’ . I believe this is the way musical theatre should go so we can all go and see our fab musicals time and time again without people having to avoid going due to the large expense to get there. My Phantom will always be Michael Crawford and its a shame he didn’t sing with the others but he looked rather overwhelmed by the whole experience. Can’t wait until the DVD comes out and the sequel ‘Love Never Dies’ is out next March so the legend of the Phantom can continue………..

  15. Thank you for this precious gift of remembrance of this most perfect story … for those of us unable to be in London, your stunning photos captured what we’ve always felt about the love story we have embraced for so long a time. Thank you so much ~

    • Wow. I wish I could actually take credit for them, but I just did some photoshop work. They’re really just to keep us all going until the DVD comes out. Thank you for leaving such an eloquent and heartfelt comment.

  16. shawna

    Yes, love your review. The show was at 2pm in Ohio. I was just REALLY disappointed that Michael Crawford didn’t sing. I also agree with one of the other posts, that Sarah Brightman seemed to be trying a bit hard– I also thought she was singing lower than I’ve heard her sing before. It was an amazing experience– a lot of people in the theatre were clapping throughout the show with the real audience, too. I am definitely getting the dvd when it comes out next month.

    • Careful! Unless you have a region-free DVD player, you won’t be able to play the version releasing on November 14th. The US version isn’t coming out until February 7th.

      I’m a terrible judge of singing, but I too was surprised when Sarah Brightman began so low, she was almost growling.

      Lovely to hear from you!

  17. Carmel David

    Thank you for your comprehensive review (and for the photos too!). I’m from Manila (Philippines) and I am yet to watch the concert in one of our cinemas next week. I hope I still enjoy it, in spite of the mixed reviews I’ve been reading from different blogs.

    Hadley looks different, I didn’t recognize him! 🙂

    • Thank you for dropping by! You know, I’m usually the first to read reviews, but I have avoided reading too many POTO25 reviews. I think it’s because right before I left for the cinema on Sunday, I read that Hadley Fraser as Raoul was shouting his lines at the Saturday performance. It got me worried, but then when I saw the simulcast, I didn’t see any evidence of that. I have no idea if his performance was signficantly different between the two days. I’m just glad I went and experienced POTO25 for myself. Please let me know what you think after you’ve watched.

      Mr Fraser did look different, didn’t he? I’ve gotten so used to him with a scruffy beard and glasses, or muttonchops.

  18. Nelia Green

    Hello …. Unfortunately, I came down with flu right after seeing POTO25 at my local cinema, and apparently hadn’t left a comment here. So, here goes…

    Enjoyed sharing LIVE feed with 20 friends and a large, enthusiastic audience in Denver. I personally liked the Albert Hall and thought it was an excellent venue – huge semi-circular auditorium, spectacular, romantic Victorian ambiance. I know there was a logistics problem with the ceiling and chandelier, but do believe something more dramatic could have been accomplished within the limitations – was anti climatic, almost like an after thought.

    My biggest problem was with the lighting and camera work. Stage level shots made everyone, even tiny Sierra, look way wide. Felt that the yellow lighting washed out contrast, and especially made Ramin’s “good-side” features simply disappear – he actually has very dark eyes, and they came across as gray – his skull cap and mask looked sloppy, and didn’t fit nor work well. I want to fall in love with Phantom’s “good side” and the promise of what might might be. Ramin is simply gorgeous – wish they’d leave his fab eyebrows (which I adore) alone. I did have the privilege of seeing POTO and Love Never Dies in London last year, and meeting Mr. Karimloo at Stage Door 3 times – what a sweet memory!

    Really liked Hadley Fraser’s charming good looks, voice and performance. He did an admirable job being both a likable and detestable Raoul. Sierra was an excellent choice for Christine – her voice resonated like fine crystal.

    I did have the opportunity to see this again on the 11th. Yes, I’ll own the DVD and CD – February is a long time off – maybe I should order CD now.

  19. kate

    Well, I’m a touch late for this.
    Anyways, I went to see it twice when it came within an hour of where I live. 😛 I managed to seem like a total stalker when people were wondering about how Ramin got into theatre during the second time I saw it. To quote my friend: They were all wondering about it, then Kate showed up, and was like “Life story”!
    But I saw someone who went to see it in Vegas, who told me about the Phantom there, and even though I was the youngest one there, I still managed to talk to a lot of people about Colm Wilkinson, because most people had seen him when he had been in Canada 20 years ago.
    I can’t wait for it to come out! I think I might be able to get it for my birthday, so I’m excited.

    • I love getting comments, especially when folks share their experiences, so it’s never too late! I’m hoping the US DVD release brings about more conversations. I also hope you get what you want for your birthday…

  20. Mae

    I’m a little late too, but I saw this quite by chance on PBS one day and was enchanted. There are several vocal choices I prefer from the original recording and some costume design choices I prefer in the 2004 movie (especially for the Masquerade; I wasn’t feeling the Carnivale look here) but overall I was extremely pleased, especially with the effort put into the Phantom’s makeup and with Christine’s lovely singing. Of course the lack of falling chandeliers was a let down (a local live performance I saw some years ago swung the chandelier down quite spectacularly in a much smaller space) but I bought the dvd the next day and got my mom and my brother hooked on it 🙂

    • Latecomers are always welcome to the party! I was just as late to the Les Miserables party, considering how long it took me to get around to seeing it on TV and discovering Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser. I did a lot of catching up fast, and I’m sure you’ll do the same.

      • Mae

        I still haven’t seen LM25. I really need to! I’m terribly loyal to the TAC and the original French recording but then again I didn’t know Ramin and Hadley were in it, so. I’ll get on that bandwagon soon. 🙂

    • Am enjoying the on-going comments on the 25th Celebration ~ we decided to have our total Phantom Experience over the weekend: first we watched the dvd of the Albert Hall Anniversary show and then we followed with the dvd of Love Never Dies … I was a total puddle! It was glorious from end to end. How I wish LND comes to the US or Canada because we’d love to see it “in person” on stage just once. It was every bit as beautiful, haunting, romantic and memorable at the original. Perfect bookends!

      I fell in love all over again … sigh!

      • Mae

        I wasn’t entirely on board with the idea of LND, but you’ve quite convinced me now… 🙂 especially as Ramin already made me weep the first two times I saw the end of the anniversary show (when Christine returns the ring). I am rather pained at the lack of live Phantom performances around here– the closest is the Las Vegas show, and I was informed that it’s an abridged version, which is disappointing, but otherwise I imagine it’s quite good and look forward to seeing it this summer if those plans go through. On a related note, Les Mis was showing in Buffalo NY recently and this is the first time I was sore about moving away! (My grandma had tickets, and everything, then got too sick to go.) I don’t know if I’ll ever see it live, and the only time I saw Phantom live was in about 2006. If LND ever comes within, oh, 500 miles of southern Arizona then I’d be happy to see it; I appreciate dvds but these are meant to be seen live, after all.

  21. Elena Cejuela

    I’ve not seen the whole musical of the 25th anniversary of The phantom, but, if you say thet it’s wonderful, i m gonna get sad!!! I’ve seen many videos in youtube and… I’ve asked for the dvd ,…. I hope I’ll get it!!! and, I m going to say, Ramin is the best singer of the musical with Sierra.
    The finale of the musical…. just… It made me cry even watching it in youtube!!!!!! I LOVE THIS MUSICAL!! Thank you for posting the photos, I really love them

  22. Hadley and Sierra made the perfect victorian couple as Raoul and Christine.

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